13 May 2023

Elite Dog Sports to compete in the Riverina for the first time

| Chris Roe
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Junee Dog Sport Club

Spectators will be in for a treat when the Dog Sports National Championship comes to Wagga in June. Photo: Junee Dog Sport Club.

When Phil Major talks about ‘working dogs’ he’s not referring to sheep-wrangling kelpies and border collies, he’s talking about the protective kind that work with law enforcement.

With the news that the Working German Shepherd & Dogsport Clubs of Australasia (WGSDSCA) will stage their national championship in Wagga next month, Phil promised that canine lovers in the Riverina were in for a treat.

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“This championship is very much a high-end competition and the people that are coming are really experienced handlers who have been competitive for many years,” he said.

“It’s the first time it’s been held in a regional centre and it’s a really tight and tidy showcase of elite dogs.”

Junee Dog Sport Club

Junee Dog Sport Club meets every Sunday to put their German Shepherds through their paces. Photo: Junee Dog Sport Club.

Phil is a member of the Junee Dog Sport Club which is the host club for this year’s event.

Members meet every Sunday to work with their large breed dogs, most of which are German Shepherds.

“We start working with our dogs from as young as three months, beginning with obedience and then we progress to the other more advanced elements such as article and scent tracking and also the protection work that is highly regulated,” he explained.

“We make sure that the dogs are of suitable temperament and we get support with our training from two experienced trainers, and members can progress to competitions if they choose.”

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Owner and breeder Anna Jones said Dog Sports competitions were about developing and evaluating dogs of all breeds for their work ethic, courage, intelligence, trainability and their bond to the handler.

It also tests the dogs’ strength, endurance, agility and scenting ability.

“Working dog training is designed to engage the dog and their handler and develop an interactive bond,” she said.

“Owners learn what drives their dog and how to engage in positive play to get the most out of their animal. With time and effort, results can be seen as early as 14 weeks old in a dog.”

Two people in a field with a dog

Junee Dog Sport Club will host this year’s national championship. Photo: Junee Dog Sport Club.

Over the four days in June, an international judge will evaluate the animals’ balance, temperament and control to get an idea of their character through training and stressful situations.

The event begins with two days of tracking through paddocks near Junee, where the law enforcement dogs will demonstrate their skills in searching for a missing person.

Phil explained that the final days will take place on the weekend at the stadium at McDonalds Park where spectators will see the dogs working off-leash to retrieve objects, jump over hurdles and work under distraction.

“We’ll also see the protection work where a bite suit is put on and dogs will have the opportunity to work under strict control to define an intruder and to restrain that person,” he said, adding that dogs will work under verbal command to locate and detain a stranger hiding in one of six ‘hides’ on the oval.

“It’s a very tight and snappy sort of an exercise where the dogs have to be in set positions and work to exact commands.

“It’s a really fast-moving, high-energy sport and it’s certainly something very unique for Wagga.”

The event runs from 8 to 11 June 2023 and you can find out more here.

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